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The Best of the Concord Years

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Album Review

The Best of the Concord Years collects 24 tracks over two discs from the final portion of Latin band leader and percussionist Tito Puente's career, which spanned six decades. During that time, Puente never strayed far from his jazz roots, as demonstrated by the inclusion of compositions by John Coltrane, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, George Shearing, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Paul Desmond, and Charles Mingus. Considering Puente's substantial output on Concord Picante, some of this material may have slipped through the cracks the first time around. The Best of the Concord Years provides another chance to hear several fiery Afro-Cuban jazz performances, proving that "The King of Latin Music" refused to slow down, even after it was expected of him.


Born: April 20, 1923 in New York, NY

Genre: Latino

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

By virtue of his warm, flamboyant stage manner, longevity, constant touring, and appearances in the mass media, Tito Puente is probably the most beloved symbol of Latin jazz. But more than that, Puente managed to keep his music remarkably fresh over the decades; as a timbales virtuoso, he combined mastery over every rhythmic nuance with old-fashioned showmanship -- watching his eyes bug out when taking a dynamic solo was one of the great treats for Latin jazz fans. A trained musician, he was also...
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